San Diego, Calif. – A physical La Costa Canyon Varsity Rugby team took its first loss of the season, 41-12, Saturday at the hands of a more experienced, tactical Torrey Pines Varsity Club.
Torrey Pines trailed early after LCC Flanker Jake Galloway scored over the middle. This was the first time all season that Torrey Pines had trailed. But the Pines team was patient, putting LCC under pressure and forcing penalties. Senior flyhalf Alec Mills connected on four consecutive penalty kicks to put Torrey Pines ahead 12-5. Mills battled swirling winds to nail kicks of 25, 32 and 25 meters, along with a point-blank shot in front of the posts.
Torrey Pines and LCC are in the same school district and intensely competitive, which helped explained the ferocious, football like hitting, the three yellow cards (2 LCC, 1 TP) and physical play.
“Rival games always concern coaches, and this one was no different,” said TP Coach Sandoval. “The beauty of rugby versus other sports is that afterwards, the boys become brothers. And of that, I am most proud. The game was fast, violent, and there was a lot of mouthiness. But, I told both teams, I know you are rivals in everything, but in Rugby, we’re all winners, we’re all brothers.”
Torrey Pines prefers a wide-open style, getting the ball into the hands of its large and fast centers and wings, where they usually find mismatches. But, it wasn’t until just before half-time that No. 11 junior Harrison Cohen was able to break free for a winding, long run that culminated in a quick pitch and try in the corner by No. 8 Mason O'Rosky, a junior. The white-hot Mills nailed the conversion despite a severe angle, to make the score, 19-5 at the half.
Play continued with Torrey Pines HS All-American center Toran Raby setting up wing Jeremy Fleet for a try to put the home team up 24-5.
Moments later, the ball squirted out of a Torrey Pines scrum and an alert Maverick, No. 8 Ryan Becker, took it up the middle for a try. Becker nailed the conversion to make it 24-12, Torrey Pines.
Torrey Pines responded in minutes when their biggest forward, 6'5" senior prop Pierre Pretorius picked the ball directly out of a ruck and went in between the posts. Another Mills conversion had the team up, 31-12.
"Pierre was the Man of the Match for us," said Sandoval. "He was in danger of losing his job in the front row not too long ago, and I moved him to prop. And, today he was everywhere for us: tackling, rucking, running, a fantastic game."
Added Pretorius: "if it keeps me in the starting lineup, I'll do it."
With 14 players on the field for both squads, thanks to yellow cards, Mills hit a late penalty kick, and fullback Jake Goena then went 80 yards untouched on the game's final play to set up another Mills conversion. Final, 41-12.
In an earlier match at the Torrey Pines Football Stadium, the host Falcons Junior Varsity defeated the LCC JV, 21-19, in a nail-biter. It was LCC's first loss of the season.
La Costa Canyon 12
Tries: Galloway, Becker
Torrey Pines 41
Tries: O'Rosky, Fleet, Pretorius, Goena
Convs: Mills 3
Pens: Mills 5